Alison Berkely: Overqualified, and in need of a job |

Alison Berkely: Overqualified, and in need of a job

I applied for a job as a secretary and got turned down.As if it wasn’t a silly idea for me to apply for such a mindless job in the first place, they added insult to injury by hiring someone else. This is before I even had the chance to come to my senses and withdraw my application. Of course I knew I was overqualified, but I thought it would be wise to keep myself busy with a little day job to break up all the fun I’ve been having. As a practicing Hedonist (I converted from Judaism at age 12), I understand you can’t have pleasure without pain, play without work, and so on. Lunch break is a great excuse to go to the gym, and everyone knows you’re no better than a cheap drunk at happy hour if you haven’t just come from the office. As indulgent as I am (Mom always said it’s important to recognize your faults), I can’t justify any more frivolous purchases unless the funds are coming from a real paycheck, not the ones signed by my dead relatives.Of course I realized that by moving to the mountains I would take a little pay cut. What I didn’t know is the only jobs I’d be able to get in Aspen are volunteer jobs.I might be unemployed, but it’s not like I haven’t been working. What do you think I do all day, drink coffee and stare at firemen? I busted my Christian Dior-clad ass volunteering at Food & Wine, and don’t think I’m above physical labor! While all my friends got away with slack jobs, I ended up slinging thousands of little bottles of water for the San Peligrino Nazi (oh, calm down – he was British, it’s just an expression). I’m talking elbow-deep in huge tubs of ice water, ripping open hundreds of thick plastic six-packs with numb fingers and throwing them into buckets filled with more ice as fast as the hoards of drunk beautiful people could suck ’em down. That’s not to say it wasn’t worth every broken nail I suffered for it. I honestly think it was one of the most fabulous events I have ever been to in my entire spoiled little life, and that’s including the weddings of my rich cousins in New York and Newport Beach combined. The drunks at Food & Wine were much more civilized than my relatives, and the food blew their overpriced caterers away. Everyone who came by thanked us and told us we were the best and most important booth there, which I really took to heart. I think they meant it because I and another one of my water-slinging cohorts walked out of there with about five gifted bottles of wine apiece. After Food & Wine was over, I got to exercise my brain at the Aspen Summer Words literary festival. (Now that’s something I can really brag to all my friends back East about.) I was asked to sit on a panel of magazine writers and editors for the “How To Write For Magazines” symposium. Even though I didn’t get paid, I got to hobnob with some of the best authors, editors, agents, graphic artists and screenwriters in the business and attend the week’s events for free. I got to sit in front of an audience at a table with my name on a little placard and talk about myself into a microphone. I got more food and more wine. (Remind me to make an appointment with my personal trainer; my waistline is suffering for all the privilege!) I got to nibble on parfait fries and sip watermelon gazpacho during a quaint luncheon on the patio at the Little Nell to meet with my panel mates to prepare for the symposium. One was an accomplished magazine writer from San Francisco whose new book just made The New York Times best-seller list. The other was a magazine editor from New York who, in my humble opinion, was a tiny bit too big for her britches. Now it is not very often that I have to be excused to the restroom for a heart-to-heart with that girl in the mirror. But I could not let these women intimidate me just because they’re accomplished, sophisticated and successful and I’m a small-town columnist who is working for free (another one of my little volunteer jobs). I’m sure all those good people who paid money to learn about writing for magazines would be just as interested in what I had to say. There was no reason to panic. Then I remembered that I polished off the last of my Xanax during a transoceanic flight to Fiji and immediately began to panic.By the time all that was over with, I had almost forgotten about the whole secretary ordeal. It had been more than three weeks since I dropped off my resume, and I still hadn’t heard a peep from them. I would have just let it go, but if there’s one thing I don’t like, it’s being ignored (not to mention my checking account is overdrawn again). I certainly didn’t get this far by sitting back and waiting for rejection. So I persisted only to put myself through a screening process more arduous than the one I went through when applying for college: I received an official letter in the mail on fancy stationery announcing they had received my resume and would “contact me if my qualifications are suitable.” (Um, hello, have you heard of this thing called e-mail?) I was scheduled for a phone interview, even though I live a block away, and I was told that I would be contacted for an in-person interview only if they decided my phone interview was worthy. Did I mention this was for a temporary position that pays only $14 an hour?I never made it past the phone interview. A blessing in disguise, I’m sure, but rejection hurts. When I wake up in the middle of the night to pee, I play that conversation over and over in my head, searching for flaws:”What are two words your last employer would use to describe you?” “Um … good in bed?” Sorry honey. That’s three words.[If you have any good job leads for The Princess, you can e-mail her at]

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